15 Jun 2016
[Below is a follow-up to a previous commentary on the grim FDA situation facing the cigar industry.]
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s cigar regulations will undoubtedly transform the industry, leading to the potential elimination of most sticks introduced after Feb. 15, 2007.
Obviously, that includes a lot great cigars. It also strikes at the heart of what many consumers enjoy about the pastime: discovering new and different cigars.
What it doesn’t have to mean, though, is an end to cigar smoking pleasure. In the words of Buddhist teacher Tara Brach, “A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.”
And that’s what we face—a major detour. It’ll require a lot of shifts in the way we think about and approach cigars.
For many, cigar smoking has become subject to the common consumer quest for something new. Indeed, “What’s new?” has got to be the most common question asked by customers at a tobacconist.
Scientists know that humans respond to novelty, and that novelty wears off over time. As professor Aimee Huff, who’s studied the issue, wrote: “the perception of newness is an important part of the consumption experience because it creates short-term value.”
Achieving that experience won’t be nearly as easy if all the FDA restrictions take effect as scheduled. That means we’ll have to adjust our approach.
For starters, instead of asking the clerk, “What’s new?” I suggest asking yourself, “What’s new for me?” There are likely to be hundreds of pre-2007 cigars you or I haven’t tried. Sure, maybe we don’t want to try half of them, but that still leaves a lot to check out.
Another approach is to thoroughly examine what it is about certain cigars that you enjoy most and look for others that match or come close. Some of them could be pre-2007 cigars, some may be among those that make it through the vetting process.
Thinking carefully about what you enjoy may also make it easier to find satisfaction with a smaller number of lines.
A return to the days when most cigar smokers stopped by their local shop periodically for the same box of, say, Romeo y Julieta or Montecristo, seems highly improbable, regardless of what happens. But continuing to sample a new release every week or so seems an equally remote possibility.
I, for one, intend to go on smoking and enjoying cigars, regardless of the obstacles. If I have to make an attitude adjustment in order to do it, I’ll make the effort.
photo credit: Stogie Guys